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Public ‘Flea’ Market gets first BOMA nod


Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved, on first reading, an ordinance amendment to allow a Public Market at the site of the former Outlet Mall.

“This will be a much step bigger than a flea market,” Turkey Creek Land Partners principal Jim Nixon, representing developer Charles Atchley Sr., said.

Alderman Jeff Elliott asked Nixon to clarify the differences between the Public Market and Atchley’s Great Smokies Flea Market.

“This building is much larger and much, much, much more expensive,” Nixon said. And unlike the flea market, the Public Market would not allow outdoor storage and would limit outdoor sales.


Finally, Nixon said, the level of merchandise would be different: it would be “high end” and not geared toward tourists.

Elliott asked who was going to ensure merchandise stayed high end.

“High end is a measure of the man and the investment,” Nixon said.

In fact, he said, the word “flea” in the phrase “flea market” actually derived from a French word meaning “high end.”

“I don’t know how to spell it; I don’t speak French,” Nixon said.

Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche asked Nixon never to use the term “flea” when he was marketing

the property or the Public Market.

“We’re calling it a public market because that’s what it is,” he said.

Elliott next asked Nixon about Sales Tax, from which the Town draws much of its revenue.

“If you have a booth, you’ve got to have one of two things in that booth: you’ve got to have a state Sales Tax number or you’ve got to have a daily permit that you acquire from the state. And you can’t get but three of them,” Nixon said.

The proposed market could house more than 200 vendors.

“Permanent exhibitors will have a Sales Tax number. Y’all don’t have a collection division and we don’t have a collection division, but they’re not going to be out there without one of those in their booth.

“They have to have it,” Nixon said.

Collection of Sales Tax will be done by the state, which has a Knoxville collection division.

“I’m sure that the state will recognize the Sales Tax capabilities of this facility. It’s substantial; it’s really substantial,” Nixon said.

Nixon said most of the Public Market’s sales would qualify for sales tax, although some may not.

“You don’t have to pay Sales Tax to have a garage sale in your backyard, and you won’t have to in there,” Nixon said.

“But liquidation merchandise, crafts, art, produce, all will be subject to sales tax,” he added.

The vendors individually will be responsible for remitting Sales Tax to the state. The Public Market will not oversee Sales Tax reporting.

Alderman Bob Markli pointed out that was the same enforcement in place as for a JCPenney, Kohl’s, Belk “or any other business in Town.”

But there’s one exception, Nixon pointed out: “someone who comes through Town and might exhibit one day or two days, he can buy this permit … and that’s all he can operate on and then he has to move on.

“The state gets that money and that, basically … it’s in lieu of Sales Tax collections for one day, two days or three days,” Nixon said.

The permits only release vendors from Sales Tax if they sell merchandise with $45 or less worth of sales tax, “then they have to have a Sales Tax number,” Nixon added.

Elliott asked Nixon for projections in the first year.

“I think it’s going to open full or nearly full. The interest in this is very high,” Nixon said.

Alderman John Williams had questions about using truck beds as display areas while also prohibiting sales from them.

Nixon pulled out a site plan to explain the logistics. Flat bed trucks could park in designated parking spaces at the front of the store and display produce there. The produce would be sold, however, from booths under covered walkways.

Williams also asked why Nixon was asking for a variance from current drainage regulations as well.

According to Nixon, he was merely asking that the current drainage system be left as it is, rather than constructing a new one.

“We wouldn’t be here with a new project requesting this,” he said.

In fact, the current drainage system would be improved because Nixon would be decreasing the amount of impervious surface on the lot from about 90 percent to 75 percent.

“It’s a pretty good improvement over what’s there now,” he said.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Markli said.

Elliott asked if Nixon would be encouraging pedestrian access at the market.

Nixon said he was constructing a walkway, but right now, no one was out there to use it.

“I’m hoping the cowboy bar [patrons] will use it. They’re the only ones out there walking right now,” he said.

Markli thanked Nixon and Atchley for their “perseverance in bringing this project to Farragut and braving our somewhat daunting regulatory process and working your way through it.

“We appreciate you; appreciate what you’re trying to do for the Town. We salute your efforts,” he added.

Markli moved to approve the ordinance change on first reading; LaMarche seconded. The motion was unanimously approved.

Mayor Ralph McGill did not allow public comment during the discussion Jan. 28. He said a public forum would be held at the second reading for the ordinance, Thursday, Feb. 25.

 

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